Cole Hamels is hoping his string of scoreless innings has no end in sight.
Coming off back-to-back shutouts, the Philadelphia Phillies left-hander seeks to extend his streak of 22 innings since last allowing a run Saturday night in Milwaukee.
Hamels (13-6, 2.91 ERA) was already having a strong season before his recent gems, but those efforts may have vaulted him into the conversation for his first NL Cy Young Award.
In blanking Atlanta and Miami, Hamels yielded 12 hits - 11 singles - while striking out 11 and walking one. He didn't allow a run in the final four innings of his previous start at Washington, meaning he's three innings from matching his career-best streak of 25 straight scoreless innings, established Aug. 24-Sept. 8, 2010.
"Are you expecting complete-game shutouts the entire time? No," teammate Kevin Frandsen said. "But watching Cole for all of these years and playing against him, he's capable of doing that every time."
The Brewers haven't faced Hamels this year, but they know what he can do. He has posted a 1.59 ERA in winning his last three starts versus Milwaukee, pitching a four-hitter in a 7-2 victory at Miller Park in the most recent one Sept. 8.
Runs figure to be at a premium if Fiers (6-5, 2.63) pitches like he has for most of his impressive rookie campaign, but this game may be no contest if the right-hander throws like he did Monday.
Fiers allowed eight runs - doubling his previous season high - and nine hits in a 9-6 loss at Colorado in which he got knocked out of the game with no outs in the third inning, by far the shortest of his 13 major league starts.
"Just terrible all the way around," said Fiers, who had been 5-2 with a 1.03 ERA over his previous nine starts, allowing two runs or fewer in each of them and eight runs total over that stretch.
"That wasn't close to my other starts and I'm not happy about it," he added.
The Phillies (54-65) haven't yet faced Fiers, but they've seen plenty of Ryan Braun . The reigning NL MVP hit a two-run homer - his NL-leading 32nd - in a 6-2 win over Philadelphia on Friday after going deep twice in a 7-4 victory in the opener of this four-game set the previous night.
Braun is 10 for 19 with five homers in five games against the Phillies this year. He's 4 for 24 lifetime against Hamels including postseason, but two of those hits were homers.
The Brewers (54-64) are trying to win their ninth straight home game and even the season series at three-all. They were swept at Philadelphia with three 7-6 defeats last month, part of their current 1-14 stretch on the road.
The Phillies' bats have been much quieter lately with Carlos Ruiz on the disabled list and Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence departed via trade. They're averaging 3.0 runs in their last 20 games, and they've totaled 13 through the first five games of their road trip.
|August 13, 2012||Nate Schierholtz||15-Day DL||Fractured right big toe|
|August 03, 2012||Carlos Ruiz||15-Day DL||Plantar fasciitis, left foot|
|July 23, 2012||Placido Polanco||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|July 09, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|July 09, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Strained right hip|
|June 25, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle - out 3-5 weeks|
|July 29, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|July 17, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Right thigh strain|
|June 15, 2012||Shaun Marcum||60-Day DL||Right elbow tightness|
|June 02, 2012||Aramis Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left quadricep|
|May 31, 2012||Ryan Braun||Day-to-Day||Tight Achilles|
|May 28, 2012||Jonathan Lucroy||15-Day DL||Fractured right hand, out 4-6 weeks|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Cole Hamels finally gave up some runs, though he was still sharp enough to come away with another win.
John Mayberry Jr. and Erik Kratz hit back-to-back home runs and Hamels tied a season high with 10 strikeouts to help the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-3 Saturday night.
Hamels (14-6) gave up eight hits and three earned runs in 7 2-3 innings. He walked just one batter, but gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Braun with two outs in the eighth. Jonathan Papelbon came on and struck out Aramis Ramirez , then pitched a scoreless ninth to record his 27th save.
"(Hamels) pitched really good. He used all his pitches and had good command," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Hamels entered the game having thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings over his previous three starts. The stretch included consecutive nine-inning shutouts, against Atlanta on Aug. 7 and Miami on Monday.
"I was able to keep the ball down and get big outs with my changeup and keep them off balance," Hamels said.
After retiring the Brewers in order in the first inning, the left-hander, who was the MVP of the 2008 World Series, yielded a home run to Ramirez to lead off the bottom of the second.
"It was just a bad pitch. I threw a really good one before and I tried to throw it again," Hamels said. "I just left it up. He definitely got me. At the same time, you just go and battle. I don't like to give up the runs, especially the homers. In this ball park, if I just stay down and make pitch after pitch, obviously I'll be able to get out of jams and succeed."
The home run to Braun in the eighth came after Hamels allowed a single to Jonathan Lucroy .
"It's going to be a battle with Braun. He's that good," Hamels said. "There's a constant battle when you have to face the best hitters. That's why I really wanted to get Lucroy out. I think I was more frustrated about that."
The Phillies got on the scoreboard first when Mayberry hit a two-run homer over the left-field wall with no outs in the top of the second. Mayberry's home run came after Laynce Nix drew a walk to open the inning. Catcher Erik Kratz followed with solo shot to the second level in left field, making it 3-0.
"I love it when we manufacturer runs and play small ball, but home runs get you something quick," Manuel said. "I'm happy to get (runs) on the board real quick and that's the best way I know how to get them."
The Phillies added another run in the third when Ryan Howard hit a double, driving in Chase Utley , who led off with a single. The Brewers had a chance to cut into the lead in the bottom of the inning when Lucroy singled with two outs. Braun followed with a shot to the base of the left field wall, but Lucroy inexplicably stopped at second, and Braun was tagged out in a rundown.
"I looked up to see where the ball was - which I shouldn't have done with two outs - but I looked up to see where the ball was and I just missed the bag," Lucroy said. "I could have kept running but then they could have appealed it. Hindsight, I probably should have kept running because I asked Jimmy (Rollins) and Chase (Utley) if they saw it and they both said no."
Hamels said he thought Lucroy had started jogging because he assumed Braun's shot would clear the outfield fence.
"I thought it was out," Hamels said. "You can't assume anything and you just have to keep going. I got lucky on that one."
Brewers starting pitcher Mike Fiers (6-6) struggled for the second consecutive outing. He gave up four runs, walked four and hit a batter in five innings of work. He struck out five.
"I don't think they had the curve ball in the back of their minds. I think they were canceling it out since I wasn't throwing it for strikes," Fiers said. "So they were really just sitting on the fastball."
Fiers was coming off his worst start of the season on Monday at Colorado when he lasted just two innings, giving up nine hits and eight earned runs. Before that, he had a 1.03 ERA in nine starts.
"You've got good hitters and when you're not on your game all the time, these guys, they don't miss too many mistakes, especially when you're not throwing your off-speed over the plate because they can then just sit on a fastball and they wait for you make a mistake with your fastball and they usually don't miss it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.
The Brewers entered Saturday night's contest having won eight consecutive games at Miller Park. A win would have tied a franchise record for consecutive victories at Miller Park set in May of last season.
NOTES: Brewers pitchers had 1,002 strikeouts entering Saturday's game, which led the big leagues. The Brewers have never finished a season leading the league in strikeouts. ... The Phillies have a chance to gain a split in the series on Sunday. They haven't lost a series in Milwaukee since 2007. ... Brewers pitcher Mark Rogers struck out pinch hitting for Fiers in the fifth inning. Rogers had two hits, including a double, in seven at bats entering the game. ... Braun stole second in the sixth inning, giving him 20 stolen bases and 20 home runs in the same season for the third time in his career.